1,500 workers strike at 7 Boston hotels

BOSTON (WHDH/AP) — More than a thousand hotel workers walked out at seven Marriott hotels in Boston Wednesday.

The Unite Here labor union says more than 1,500 unionized housekeepers, cooks, bartenders, bellhops, dishwashers and other workers officially went on strike for better pay at 5 a.m. after months of failed contract negotiations.

The union says the walkout is the first hotel strike in Boston’s history and Marriott is the city’s biggest hotel employer. The Maryland-based company didn’t immediately comment.

The union says similar strikes at Marriott-owned hotels are being considered in San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, San Jose, San Diego, Oakland and Honolulu.

The Boston hotels impacted include the Aloft Boston Seaport District, the Element Boston Seaport District, the Ritz-Carlton Boston, the Sheraton Boston, the W Hotel Boston, the Westin Boston Waterfront and the Westin Copley Place.

Workers could be seen holding signs that read “on strike” and “one job should be enough.”

“Life in Boston is so expensive,” hotel worker Jissely Paulino told 7News. “You can’t afford it and we want to live around next to where we work.”

The union says workers are not making enough money, need more hours and in many cases need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

“We need the new contract. I need the retirement,” housekeeper Mei Leung said. “I’m 71-years-old and still have to work here.”

In a statement, a Marriott International spokesperson said, “We are disappointed that Unite Here has chosen to resort to a strike at this time. Marriott’s current economic proposal matches the economic terms in the parties’ last contract, which included the largest increases in the parties’ bargaining history.”

Marriot says it plans to keep the hotels open during the strike and continue providing guests with excellent service.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)